The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have plenty of cap space to throw around in free agency, but they may want to add a little more — no team likes to overpay for players, after all, and there’s always someone else they can sign, some other player they can spend their money on.
At over $65 million in cap space, that money is likely going to go to a new contract for Mike Evans, a few players they’ll want to re-sign like Will Gholston, and
So let’s take a look at four players the Bucs could cut, and how much cap space they could save by cutting them.
Cornerback Alterraun Verner, $6.5 million
The Buccaneers signed Verner to a four-year, $26 million contract back in 2012. He never lived up to that salary, and has mostly been a disappointment in Tampa, albeit with a number of high-quality games. He was repeatedly benched this season, and played just 23% of the defensive snaps this year.
So, there’s no real reason to believe the Bucs will be willing to shell out $6.5 million to keep Verner around for another year. They’ll want to add some depth to the cornerback position in the draft, but with Brent Grimes, Vernon Hargreaves, Jude Adjei-Barimah, the likely re-signing of Josh Robinson and undrafted rookie Javien Elliott’s surprisingly solid play, there’s little room for Verner to stick around.
One upside: they don’t need to make a decision on Verner until the start of the regular season. He has no guarantees left, nor any bonuses coming his way.
Running back Doug Martin, $7 million
Martin had a very disappointing season, is suspended for the first three games of the 2017 season, and is currently in rehab to recover from an unspecified drug addiction that got him suspended in the first place. That suspension also voided any guarantees in his shin, expensive contract.
All of that does not bode well for Martin’s continued presence on this roster, not do the repeated injuries and inconsistent performance he’s put up in years past. With two outstanding seasons and three poor ones, you can’t exactly rely on the Dougernaut to carry the running game.
Whether the Bucs will actually move on from Martin remains to be seen, though. While they could cut him now, moving on from a player who’s in rehab is not the prettiest move, nor would it fit the close-knit team atmosphere Dirk Koetter wants to create.
Center Evan Smith, $4.5 million
The Bucs are paying Smith a lot of money to be a backup. Assuming they re-sign Joe Hawley, which seems likely, keeping Smith around would be expensive and superfluous. Especially so if J.R. Sweezy finally recovers from his back injury and gets ready to play — though it’s not entirely clear whether that will happen.
Smith has been a mediocre center and okay backup since arriving in Tampa, and is eminently replaceable. Getting a younger swing backup in his stead, and perhaps a top-notch center to replace Hawley, would make a lot of sense.
Defensive end George Johnson, $2.5 million
The Bucs traded for Johnson back in 2015, and he has contributed very little since then. He was on injured reserve last season, and there’s really no reason to keep him around. Expect him to be cut at some point this offseason.